Congregational innovation

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The centerpiece of Simple Church, a United Methodist congregation, is a Thursday night dinner when 30 to 40 share the Lord's Supper. Photos courtesy of Simple Church

Simple Church blends dinner, worship and enterprise to create a new model

Congregants gather for a sacred weekly meal where the conversation serves as the sermon and freshly baked bread provides nourishment, communion and income. Other churches are using their template to replicate the experience.

The Abundant Harvest food truck is one of the many parts of St. Isidore Episcopal Church and its "offensively generous" approach to ministry. Photos courtesy of St. Isidore Episcopal Church 

Church has no walls but many doors, accessible to seekers and skeptics

One body with many parts, a Houston “church without walls” brings together house churches, a food truck, pub theology, a laundry ministry and more. Its priest isn’t trying to do something old in a new way – he’s trying to do something brand-new in the old way.

Layperson Muriel Dufendach, left, shares a laugh with the Rev. Carol Walton after a service at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Henderson, Nevada. Dufendach  carries out some traditionally priestly functions, such as presiding at the weekday Eucharist.  Photo by Ronda Churchill

A move to part-time clergy sparks innovation in congregations

Although church leaders often worry that switching from full-time to part-time clergy will lead to decline, congregations across the country are finding new vitality by reimagining the roles of clergy and laypeople.

As part of the CityReach program in downtown Boston, teenagers prepare sandwiches for people who are homeless.  Photos courtesy of CityReach

Boston church's program gives teens a crash course in homelessness from those who know it best

Flipping the script on who gets to tell the story of the disenfranchised, common cathedral's CityReach program empowers people who have experienced homelessness to serve as trusted experts on life without shelter.

Chrismons ornament: Pelican in her Piety

This Chrismons ornament is called "Pelican in Her Piety." It's part of a series representing the seasons of Christmas and Lent called the "Christian Year Series," designed by Frances Spencer, who created the first Chrismon tree in 1957. Photos by Jessamyn Rubio

Meredith Williams: We are people who ...

Chrismons -- white and gold ornaments representing the story of Christ -- are part of the identity of the Lutheran congregation in Virginia where they originated six decades ago.

The Rev. Faith Fowler stands in front of the first of 25 new tiny homes that will be built in Detroit by Cass Community Social Services. Photo by Diane Weiss 

A Detroit pastor and her church are building something big with tiny homes

As both pastor and nonprofit executive director, the Rev. Faith Fowler is known for her outreach to the poor. Her latest effort: a village of tiny homes that will allow people to become stakeholders in their neighborhood and in their city.

Prayer flags

Congregants and community members made prayer flags and enjoyed the shade of this temporary shelter, which was constructed as a public art project in front of First Church in Wenham, Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of Christine Hribar

Christine Hribar: An art installation provides space for ministry

Creating a public work of art on the front lawn of her small-town church was a powerful experience in community ministry for a New England pastor.

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